Carole Reese (second from left), director of Institutional Research, discussed military families' issues for a panel organized by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden (center), held September 24. Photo by Monica Cabrera, Morning Call

Carole Reese, director of Institutional Research, almost ignored the Sunday morning phone call. "The caller ID read Illinois, and it wasn’t a number I recognized," she recalled. "I figured it was a telemarketer." Wariness quickly turned to excitement when Carole learned the caller was with the office of Michelle Obama, wife of presidential candidate Barack Obama.

"The office was organizing a gathering of military families for a panel discussion and wanted to know if I'd like to participate," said Carole, an Obama supporter. "Of course I said, 'yes.'" Carole and her son Daniel attended the gathering Wednesday September 24, at Cedar Crest College. Three panelists, including Carole, participated in the event, which was covered by local and regional media.

Carole's husband Sargent First Class James Reese, a combat medic in his fortieth year with the National Guard, served in Iraq's Anbar province in 2005-06. He could face a second tour of duty next year. At age 59, Jim Reese "is a father figure to the younger soldiers," said Carole. In civilian life, he is a sales representative for Retail Services in Connecticut.

While her husband served in Iraq, Carole joined the National Guard Family Readiness Group. "I found the best way to help yourself is to help others," she said. "That’s also why I wanted to serve on the panel. I think my story is one other military families across the country can relate to. We need an administration that will support not only our troops, but also their families.” Carole believes an Obama-Biden administration would be just the ticket.